Under the Bright Lights

The war between Vampires and Lycans has ended, but an even deadlier threat has risen: Humanity. The world of immortals is a secret no longer, and terrified humans seek to exterminate the source of their fear. Vampires, Lycans, and other immortal species now hide themselves, struggle to survive, and fight back. Their future and their very existence are at stake.
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Monkey Kitty
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Re: Under the Bright Lights

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Asif and Lina

Asif had told himself that he wouldn't cry. That he would be stoic. A rock for Lina, but giving no vent to his own feelings.

Holding his newborn daughter in his arms, though, he couldn't quite manage to keep his emotions in check. Tears ran down his cheeks, and his shoulders shook. He was too overcome with gratitude. With relief.

He'd been worried for so long. About Lina. About his nieces and Taara. About the new life they were bringing into the world, an unplanned surprise, welcome but arriving such dangerous and uncertain times. At the back of his mind, even when he was happy, there had been fear for so long that he had forgotten what it felt like not to be afraid. Not to spend every day fighting the terror that someday he would be unable to protect them. That he would lose them. How could something as fragile as a newborn possibly survive?

But she had survived, and so had Lina. Finally, they were all safe. His tiny new daughter was in his arms, and he was overcome by how blessed he was.

"Are you alright, Asif?" Lina asked - exhausted herself, but as ever caring for those around her.

Asif realized he'd been silent too long. He hadn't told her the reason for his tears. But he thought she knew. He thought she felt it too.

"Yes, my dearest." He kissed her, and sat on the edge of the bed to pass the newborn girl back to her so they could hold their little one together. "Yes. I'm well. All is well. I'm just so..."

He didn't know what to say. 'Happy' wasn't nearly enough.

Lina squeezed his hand. "I know," she said. "I am too."

"Little Nafisa," Asif whispered. "You are such a blessing to us."
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Quaxo9
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Re: Under the Bright Lights

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Riff

The werewolf seemed to be thinking over the proposition. His contemplative, open expression didn't quite mix with the bundle of jittery muscle that was the rest of his body. Though, in Riff's defence, his body was always sort of jittery. There would be no mistaking his intent, though, when he finally spoke.

"I may not be the one in charge of this Pack, but I know that Isaac would agree with me on this: we won't be doing bargaining with people who blow up little girls and agree to kill people for a fee. So, I'll repeat myself one last time. What you do with my offer is up to you. Leave now, and you'll avoid bloodshed. If you don't, we will continue to stand with our allies."

His missive delivered, Riff's eyes blackened and he pushed himself through the transformation. Magic barrier or no, he wasn't going to stand idly by and let their new friends get slaughtered by a bunch of magical mercenaries.
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Monkey Kitty
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Re: Under the Bright Lights

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Isaac Fishblatt

Isaac ran all the way to the house. The girl in his arms was light - not just because of his Lycan strength, but because she was so insubstantial. Was there any way she could survive? It seemed impossible. But he could still feel her heartbeat, the slight motion of her breath. It wasn't over yet. If Seraphina could live, perhaps this one could too.

Fortunately, the tall white shape of the old farmhouse made an easy landmark. As Isaac raced into the yard, he saw Ellen and sighed with relief. The mage woman was clearly well aware of the trouble. She had a defensive spell swirling in her left hand and - to Isaac's surprise at the mundaneness of the thing - a small firearm holstered on her hip. He was glad she was prepared for trouble... though perhaps not the kind he brought.

"Ellen!" he called. "This girl needs help."

Ellen glanced at the burden he carried, looked startled for a moment, then nodded and motioned toward the house. "Bring her inside," Ellen said. "Quickly." As though she were running her hands through water, she quickly parted some wards to let the Lycan through.

Isaac set the girl on the couch as Ellen called for her husband. Nick appeared a moment later; he too must have been assisting in the protection of the house. Seraphina was right behind him.

Ellen carefully, deliberately touched the dead girl's face. Ellen's own countenance went white, and she shuddered. "A lot of trauma," she said softly to Nick. "A whole lot. But we should be able to help."

Nick pressed his palm against the girl's forehead, and she abruptly went rigid, then still. Seeing Isaac's horrified expression, Nick said, "She's still alive. But she's in a lot of pain. It's better for her to sleep until we can do something about that. She'll rest easy for now."

Isaac saw that her chest was still rising and falling, and breathed a sigh of relief. "Okay," he said. "Thank you. You should know, there are other people. Mages. After you. You specifically, Nick. And Seraphina..."

Nick nodded, though Isaac could tell he was disturbed - more by the threat to his daughter than to himself. "Alright," he said. "We'll get the girl..."

"Her name is Kiki," Ellen offered.

Nick didn't question how she knew. "We'll get Kiki down to the basement. It's well warded down there. Seraphina, stay with her. Hold her hand. Reassure her. On some level, she'll hear you and know you're there, and it'll help. Your brothers are already down there. Your mother and I will... do what needs to be done."

***

The mages facing Riff and the Pack members showed no intention of backing down. Spells crackled as they squared off with the Lycans, and before long, energy began to snap and flow as they pressed the attack.

One mage, however, didn't appear to have any intention of risking her life for someone else's cause. The blonde they had called Candy quietly slipped away in the chaos - not for the first time in her life.
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Quaxo9
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Re: Under the Bright Lights

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Riff

He was true to his word - and tried to let on to the other Pack members that the only persons meriting attack were those standing and facing them. If anyone turned to run, he abruptly changed course and engaged someone else. Not that it always worked out - sometimes they retreated just to prepare another spell, and then their lives were forfeit. Death of the invaders wasn't the Pack's goal, and certainly not Riff's intention, but casualties certainly did occur. On both sides. As his claws slashed through flesh he hoped that he'd made the right decision. That Maria and Sofie were safe. That not bargaining with the mages was the smart move. He couldn't help the flashes of regret even as he fought off magic weapons and curses.

In the end, the battleground was just that. A place where a battle had ensued. It was strewn with black marks of either a flammable or deadly poisonous nature. Blood. Fallen. Smoke. He turned to observe the field, hoping that more mages had decided to leave than stay - and that they hadn't suffered too heavy losses. Besides, there was still the fight with the Fae back on the beach to worry about. He caught the eye of another Pack member and sent them to scout out the beach. Riff himself approached the house, still in wolf form, his back to the building as he surveyed the orchard for potential foes.
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Monkey Kitty
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Re: Under the Bright Lights

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The Pack

Victory, but at a heavy cost. The sort of cost - and Riff might not have taken into account - that the Pack was unaccustomed to paying. These weren't the sort of battle-hardened Lycans Riff had known in Europe. Up till recently, their life on the island had been tranquil, with only the very occasional scuffle where a miscreant had to be put in their place... and nobody died. The fight against the Nazi Pack had been a shocking swerve for them - but then, they had been lucky. None of their own had been lost. This time, they weren't so fortunate.

After Riff and the scout left, the Pack didn't regroup. This was a situation they were utterly unprepared for it. Sure, they had talked about it. They had come up with a plan. But when it came right down to it, they weren't prepared emotionally for the scope of what had happened.

Lycans milled aimlessly, uncomfortable.

"Jake's dead," someone said.

There was a soft sob.

A brief check of a pulse. A shake of a head. "And Dave."

For a moment, the Pack stared mournfully at their fallen comrades. Then suddenly, chaos erupted.

"Screw this! I'm not doing it."

"Me either. What the hell? Who are these people? We don't even know them. Two of our own are dead - for strangers! What are they to us?"

"They're our allies. We need to help..."

"At the cost of our own lives? Let the mages protect themselves. I'm not gonna kill for them. I'm not gonna die for them."

"Isaac said to..."

"Then screw him too!"

"We don't need these strangers here to mess up our lives!"

For a moment, it seemed the Pack itself might come to blows. A few Lycans started to square up with each other... but no one quite had the stomach for it. After a few snarls and growls, some of the Lycans began numbly following the orders they had been given. The others, though, were having no more of it. Several of the Pack members loped off down the beach, abandoning the fight and the newcomers they had decided weren't worth the cost.
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Quaxo9
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Re: Under the Bright Lights

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Riff

For some reason, he hadn't thought of it. Of course, Isaac had mentioned that theirs was a peaceful community, but somehow he hadn't quite got the message. The fight with the Nazi Lycans had, well, felt normal in the world he was used to. But he should have remembered.

He had reached the stairs and took the time to return to human form, grabbing a wool blanket off the bench by the door that had probably been intended as a decoration. All he caught was the end of the disagreement as Pack members split apart. Riff's eyes fell on the bodies that the remaining Pack were centred around. This was his fault. He'd made the call to fight. These deaths were on his head. Heaven help him.

Swallowing his rising emotion, Riff knocked softly on the door, tucking the blanket around his waist like a sarong.

"Hey, uh. Things seem sorted out here. I sent someone to check on the beach crew. Everyone okay in there?"
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Monkey Kitty
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Re: Under the Bright Lights

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Ellen Greenway

The old apple farm looked like it had been hit by a storm. There were branches down, clusters of leaves on the sidewalk, and stray apples strewn haphazardly on the grass. A few siding planks were missing from the house. The front window was broken. One of the panes in the door was cracked. The house had fared relatively well, though - one of the old farm sheds appeared to have been completely flattened, as if by a tornado.

Nick opened the door when Riff knocked. He looked anxious but unharmed.

Just then, Ellen and Isaac returned to the house too, making their exhausted way up the driveway. Isaac looked rather battered and bruised. Ellen seemed less damaged overall, but did have a jagged cut just above her right eye; it didn't look deep, fortunately, but was bleeding profusely just because of the location of the wound.

"Hi," Ellen said, and Isaac gave a tired little wave.

The mage stepped up on the porch, kissed her husband, and sighed. Nick shot a worried look at the cut on her face, and pressed two fingers to the skin just above it, knitting it back together.

"Everything's okay," Ellen said. "Now, anyway. The Fae made it into town. It was rough going for awhile. But it's... over now. Our people are safe. Are you alright, Riff?"
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Quaxo9
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Re: Under the Bright Lights

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Riff

"Yeah. Fine. But everyone else..."

That wasn't to say he hadn't sustained any injuries, but Riff had long thought that if one ended a fight with all their body parts and most of their blood still inside them, they were 'fine'. Scrapes, strains and inner demons could be dealt with in time. He supposed that he should start making exceptions to that rule now, though. Things were definitely not 'fine'. People were dead. The Pack scattered. Riff's shoulder slumped and he choked on his breath, unable to completely meet Isaac's eyes.

"I'm so sorry, Isaac. The mages were mercs and offered to let us buy them off, but...I couldn't think of anything I would give to people hired to kill. So...I sort of led the fight here. We lost a few - and the rest of the Pack, well, they aren't doing so good. I'm so sorry I couldn't keep everyone alive...and together."
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Monkey Kitty
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Re: Under the Bright Lights

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Isaac Fishblatt

"We lost...?" All the color had drained from Isaac's face. "Oh God."

It took him a moment to pull himself together, and when he did, he realized he might have given Riff the wrong impression.

"It's not your fault, Riff. I don't see any way you could have avoided a fight, and sometimes... sometimes there are casualties. I didn't order anyone to go on this mission. Everyone who came volunteered. But my people aren't used to this sort of thing. What they expected may have been very different from being here and... seeing it happen."

He couldn't deceive himself into thinking things would be the same after this. Their Pack would never be how it was before. But sometimes change was inevitable.

"Like I said, I don't blame you at all. But it's a lot to take in. These people... we've been together a long time. I consider them friends. Family. This is... difficult for me."

He nodded to the Greenways. "If you'll excuse me. I need to gather my Pack and regroup."

"Of course," Ellen said. "Thank you both for your help. You... were lifesavers. Literally. We won't forget what you did for us."

Isaac ducked his head in a weak gesture of acknowledgment, then he and Riff started making their way back to the beach.

"How bad was it?" Isaac asked quietly when they were alone.
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